This past weekend, along with Robert, I had the opportunity to attend Greg Ellifritz’s Active Response Training one day Extreme Close Quarters Gunfighting class. As noted in Robert’s AAR, the class was hosted by John Murphy of FPF Training in Culpeper, VA. Like Robert, my only affiliation with the above organizations is as a paying customer.
I left the detailed AAR to Robert, as he is better at writing those than I am. However, I wanted to share some of my own observations.
Let me sum up this class for you simply. If you carry a handgun every day, or even if you just keep one at home for defense, TAKE THIS CLASS! The material presented is absolutely vital to knowing how to competently fight with a handgun. Ellifritz is a phenomenal instructor, and he utilizes a stair-stepped building block method of teaching simple and effective methods and techniques.
One of the reasons that I chose to drive several hours for a one day class was because it was a definite hole in my game. I’ve been in a few fights, but overall I don’t consider myself to be a good fighter. Also, I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a large individual, so my apprehension about a physical fight is somewhat proportional to the size of my opponent. While I still need to pursue some sort of combatives training long-term, I now feel much better about the prospect of being involved in a bad breath distance confrontation, especially one in which I may be forced to use my gun.
As Robert alluded to in his AAR, we both have participated in some brief training in extreme close quarters gunfighting as part of other courses. Indeed, most of the things that we practiced live fire in Ellifritz’s class, I had done before on a range. However, the level of detail of the instruction and the rationale for why certain things are important had been absent. This is truly one of those areas where subtle differences can make a profound difference in outcomes.
The attention to detail and safety in Ellifritz’s curriculum for this class was outstanding and is a testament to his experience as a trainer and to his knowledge base. The techniques he teaches make sense, and he provides the rationale behind each technique that he advocates. I was surprised at just how thorough of a course this was, despite its relatively narrow focus. I’ll say it again, this is information that you NEED to know if you rely on a pistol as part of your defensive plan. Even if you don’t, this class teaches you what to do if you ever have a Saturday night special thrust in your face by a ne’er-do-well.
Robert covered the specific drills and techniques that we practiced in his own AAR so I won’t belabor them here. Rather, I hope my comments above simply reinforce just how important and valuable I think this training is. Take into account the fact that I have been formally training with a handgun since 1997 and can count on one hand the number of instructors and organizations that I know of offering this kind of training, some better than others. As mentioned above, the close range encounter is often covered as a block of instruction in many courses, but Ellifritz’s course showed me that it is typically only touched upon instead of being taught in depth.
One of the things I found unique and interesting during the start of class was Ellifritz having us go around one by one, introducing ourselves and explaining our choice of gun and holster for the class. Whether due to the type of student that shows up to one of Ellifritz’s classes or due to its growing popularity, appendix carry was well represented with a variety of holsters and guns being used. Ellifritz has already posted some observations of the equipment used in this class over on his excellent blog and I encourage you to check it out. For our female readers, in the post, Ellifritz specifically discusses one unique holster option designed for the ladies that seemed to work well for one female student in class.
I used my typical Gen4 Glock 19 in class, and thankfully experienced no malfunctions. Also, for the first time in a class, I used the F3 Foxtrot AIWB holster that I use almost daily and have reviewed here on the blog previously. The holster worked well and I had no problems with it. Having said that, after briefly trying out Robert’s Eidolon holster, I will be ordering one!
One other tangent that I wanted to discuss is a book that I originally learned about from reading Ellifritz’s blog. Included in our Recommended Books section of the blog, Richard Nance’s gunFIGHT! is an invaluable study guide to accompany Ellifritz’s course. Many of the techniques Ellifritz teaches are similar to those described in the book, and I consider it to be a mandatory reference for anyone interested in the defensive use of firearms.
In summary, Ellifritz is an awesome instructor with a unique curriculum, and I intend to train with him in the future, even if I have to travel to do so. I suggest you do the same!